Online community to the rescue!

When I find myself in need of good advice, more times than others I do not call upon my learned elders or my spouse. Instead, I turn to the Internet.

Social media has provided a great outlet to air grievances, get feedback and seek advice on problems. Friends and acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn seem more than happy to help, and this diverse and far-flung community has helped me out of a few jams in the last few years since I’ve been active on these social media sites.

Recently, I posted to my personal blog a story about our recent adoption of two cats. They are brothers, four years old and very freaked out about their new surroundings. As soon as their old owners let them out of their carriers in our laundry room, they bolted. And they didn’t come out of hiding for many days. In fact, one of them has yet to be seen and it’s been nine days.

I have never lived with cats before, so I am not familiar with their behavior. I was not sure if I would ever see the cats again, so I put it out the the social media community: How long would the cats stay in hiding?

I have a penchant for polls. Maybe it’s my research background during grad school, but who doesn’t love a good list of percentages? The response was like having a knitting circle of cat lovers in my living room telling me stories about their cats and their adoption processes. It was heartening to hear their stories and made me feel less like a novice and more a part of a community.

So while I sometimes drone on about the pitfalls of social media and what we might be giving up by such fervent dedication to our tweets and status updates–and also the psychological effect social media may have on us–I am thankful to have such a broad community welling to help a sister out in times of need.

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